Is your Pit Bull biting, scratching, licking, and itching like crazy? Unfortunately, excessive scratching or itching may indicate an underlying skin issue.
Pit Bulls have sensitive skin due to being naturally short-haired. Because of this, Pit Bull owners should take special precautions with their pup — like ensuring Fido doesn’t get a sunburn — in addition to other preventive measures like flea and tick meds.
Luckily, treatments are readily available. Diet changes, supplements, and prescription medications are simple and affordable ways to keep your pooch comfortable and healthy.
Why do Pit Bulls have Skin Issues?
Because of their short hair, Pit Bulls’ skin is more exposed to the elements and also more prone to allergies. Genetic predispositions make pitties susceptible to skin issues. But, know skin problems aren’t actually all that uncommon among other breeds.
The 2018 annual Healthy Paws Pet Insurance Cost of Pet Health Care report noted that 22% of all insurance claims were due to pet parents bringing their pooch in because of skin issues. All breeds (including mutts) can have skin allergy issues, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.
Some breeds are more likely to develop skin conditions including:
- Pit Bulls
- Chinese Shar-Peis
- Wirehaired Fox Terriers
- Golden Retrievers
- Dalmatians, Boxers
- Boston Terriers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Lhasa Apsos
- Scottish Terriers
- Shih Tzus
- West Highland White Terriers
Signs and symptoms of problematic skin conditions
Even if you’re not a vet, there are some tell-tale signs your dog may be dealing with a skin condition that’s causing discomfort. This often comes in the form of allergies, which can cause skin irritation on the belly, feet, skin folds, and ears.
Here are a few of the signs and symptoms of skin conditions:
- Paw chewing
- Dry, itchy skin
- Yeast infections
- Excessive scratching, biting
- The appearance of scabs or sores
Identifying potential triggers and skin issues
So, what causes all of these Pit Bull skin problems? Several factors can cause a dog’s skin to flare, including fleas, environmental allergens, and food allergies.
Atopic allergies can cause the largest issue because molds, pollens, dust mites, and house dust are present in most homes without us even knowing. We sneeze in reaction to these allergens, and a dog’s immune system reacts with itchy skin. There are a few other potential triggers, too.
Processed pet food
According to WebMD, “Ten percent of all allergy cases in dogs are food allergies. Dogs can also suffer from food intolerance, which is different from a food allergy.” Unfortunately, most dogs are allergic to multiple ingredients, which can make it a long process of figuring out what is actually triggering skin problems. Working with your vet can help you nail problem ingredients down faster.
The most common allergens dogs have issues with include:
Aside from the usual stomach issues like chronic gas or diarrhea, your dog may be dealing with a food allergy if you see them licking their feet or symptoms of an itchy bottom.
Dermatitis from fleas
Fleas are not only a nuisance to exterminate, but these tiny creatures can wreak havoc on your Pit Bull’s skin. Dermatitis from fleas is caused when your dog’s system reacts to the saliva injected into the skin upon being bitten by a flea. The best way to prevent dermatitis is a consistent flea treatment to minimize skin rashes and irritation from these biting insects. Other skin issues like scabs and red skin due to bites can be avoided, too, with preventative treatment.
Pit Bulls are prone to mange caused by microscopic mites overpopulating in hair follicles. All dogs have these mites, but the Pit Bull’s immune system doesn’t seem to respond well to them. Localized symptoms include lesions occurring in patches, mostly on the face, torso, or legs. In some cases, you may see small dry patches of irritated lesions. Widespread mange, on the other hand, includes balding (alopecia), redness of the skin (erythema), and the appearance of scales and lesions.
Flaky, dry skin usually shows up early in a Pit Bull’s life. Severe dry skin is known as “ichthyosis” and is a disease a pup is born with. Excessive licking can also cause the skin to dry out.
Yes, allergy season is really an issue for dogs, too. If you’re suffering from high springtime pollen counts, check to see how your pup is faring, too. It’s hard to keep environmental allergens away from dogs — especially grass and pollen — which is why it’s important to keep an eye on excessive shedding, paw licking, or chronic ear infections during the spring. Local climate issues can cause Pit Bulls to excessively lick their coats, causing hotspots. Bald spots and irritated skin bumps are examples of skin issues from an environmental allergy trigger.
Final note: Skin reactions vary in each dog. It’s important for owners to keep an eye on any skin condition to confirm it’s not getting worse. Keep track of symptoms in a notebook to ensure you have clear details and timelines for the vet in the event you need to make an appointment.
How to treat Pit Bull skin problems
Now that you’ve read the laundry list of Pit Bull skin problems, you’re probably wondering how long the list of treatment options are.
Luckily, there are easy-to-implement options available to start helping your Pit Bull heal from chronic skin conditions.
Healthy diet changes
One of the easiest options to start with is incorporating a diet change. Two easy ways to do this include:
- Go raw for a healthier diet. Like humans, most of a dog’s immune system is in its gut. Fixing the gut with a healthier diet may include working with a holistic veterinarian on cleaning up your dog’s diet, including detoxing the liver and kidneys for healthier skin.
- Add a daily fish oil supplement. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids and can help a dog’s skin, coat, and overall health. Not only is it good for their skin, it’s a great immune booster, too, according to the American Kennel Club. Just be sure to keep this supplement refrigerated to prevent it from going rancid.
Along with a diet overhaul, you may want to consider natural remedies as a part of your treatment plan. You can always try some DIY options to work alongside your vet’s recommendation. A holistic vet will be more open to encouraging you to experiment with natural remedies.
A few options to consider:
- Natural Dog Skin Soother. This ultimate healing balm works well on itchy pups dealing with rashes, cuts, burns, or dry skin. It’s packed with healing herbs that are naturally anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.
- Coconut oil. If you have coconut oil on hand, this is a great moisturizer with anti-fungal properties and is a natural solution to dry skin. Apply topically. It’s safe for dogs to lick, too!
- Plant-based oils. While these are a bit less effective compared to fish oil, plant-based omega-3s are a good option if your dog doesn’t tolerate fish oil well. Plant-based oils like olive oil may be used topically or given in moderation with food.
When all else fails, atopic skin issues are often treated with heavy-hitting meds like antihistamines, cyclosporine, or prednisone. These medications may be temporary fixes, and if your dog has issues during allergy season, then you may need to give medication for the duration of the season.
Extreme cases may require allergy injections to allow your dog’s irritated skin to heal. Some injections like CYTOPOINT may last up to eight weeks to stop your dog’s desire to itch. Some dogs may need this year-round while others may only need it during flares.
Preventing skin issues
Some dogs are unlucky and inherit the need to itch — along with the unsightly skin problems that come with it. As a pet owner, there are a few things you can do to help minimize the irritation of a flare for your Pit Bull.
- Keep allergens at bay. Regular cleaning and minimizing exposure can reduce skin irritation.
- Take preventative steps. Use preventative measures like flea meds, for example.
- Groom your pup – Regular bathing and brushing of your dog’s coat can reduce allergens on the coat and promote hair growth and matted hair.
Above all, don’t let skin issues go too long without being looked at by a vet. A rash left untreated and scratched often can turn into an infection that can lead to costly surgeries.
Other Pit Bull health conditions to watch for
Each breed has its own set of challenges when it comes to predisposed health conditions. For Pit Bulls, that’s skin problems. But there are also a few other health conditions to be mindful of when it comes to your precious pup.
- Heart disease. This muscular dog needs a ton of exercise, so it’s important to let your Pit Bull get plenty of outdoor time to keep heart health in check. An estimated 7.8 million dogs in the U.S. have heart disease. Signs include difficulty breathing, fatigue, and a reduced willingness to walk or exercise.
- Congenital heart defects. Other heart issues for Pitbulls may include valve malformations and irregularities in heart rhythm.
- Hip dysplasia. This skeletal disease happens when a dog’s hip joints don’t develop properly. Genetics, environmental, and dietary factors all potentially contribute to this disease. Rapid weight gain or nutritional deficits can worsen hip dysplasia. A hearty diet that includes proper nutrients is a must for this sturdy breed.
- Kneecap dislocation. Dislocated kneecaps are generally caused by genetic malformation or trauma. Female dogs are more prone to this. Symptoms generally present four months post-birth.
Keep Your Pit Bull healthy
Your Pit Bull is part of the family. As an important member of the family, keeping an eye on skin conditions and general health can ensure your dog stays on a healthy track. This popular family pet can live a long time — 12 to 14 years — if properly cared for and nurtured.
Routine care includes:
- Teeth brushing
- Weekly coat care
- Regular vet check-ups
- Consistent, high-quality diet
- Daily exercise
- Weekly ear cleaning
Most importantly for your Pit Bull’s health, find yourself a reputable and trustworthy veterinarian you respect in your area. Check out the American Veterinary Medical Association guide on finding a vet. If you prefer a more holistic route, considering using the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association directory to find one.